WHY RHODE ISLAND?
First, here’s a Little History about Little Rhode Island
Rhode Island was founded in 1636 by Roger Williams, who was banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony for his extreme views on freedom of religion and speech. He traveled southwest to what is now Rhode Island and purchased land from the Narragansett tribe. He founded Providence on the principles of tolerance and peace. We all think this sounds like a good idea.
Brown University, then known as “The College in the English Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations,” was founded in 1764 and was the first university to accept students regardless of the religious affiliation. It is one of 9 universities founded prior to the American Revolution.
RI was the first American British colony to secede from Great Britain in May 4, 1776, two months prior to the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which was signed in the Original RI State House
You can still go the court room where the Declaration of Independence was signed. It is open to the public on weekdays and located at 150 Benefit Street.
Despite being the first colony to officially secede from Great Britain, Rhode Island was the last of the 13 colonies to become a state.
The French, under General Rochambeau, landed in Newport in 1780, and Newport became the base of the French forces during the American Revolutionary War.
Rhode Island is considered the birth place of religious freedom.
It is home to the First Baptist Church in America (left), which is located in Providence.
It is home to the First Synagogue in America, the Touro Synagogue (right), which is located in Newport.
RI is considered the birthplace of Industrial Revolution. In 1790, the English immigrant Samuel Slater founded the first textile mill in Pawtucket, which revolutionized the textile industry in New England. He is now known as the father of the American industrial revolution.
The Rhode Island State House was built in 1895-1904 and became the model for other state houses around the nation.
The dome of the RI State House is the 4th largest self-supporting marble dome in the world, behind the domes of the St. Peter’s Basilica, the Taj Mahal and the Minnesota State Capitol Building.
At the beginning of the mid-19th centuries, wealthy southern planters began to build their “summer cottages” on Bellevue Avenue in Newport, RI. By the turn of the 20th century, many of the nations wealthiest families, including the Vanderbilts, Astors and Wideners were summering in Newport and had constructed large “cottages,” such as the Breakers and Miramar.
You can now visit the Newport mansions, which are protected by the Newport Preservation Society. They are open most days, and have audio guided tours.
Newport has become a popular wedding destination as many of the mansions can be rented for large events. The mansions have also served as sets for many Hollywood films, including “The Great Gastby” and “27 Dresses.”
Providence underwent cultural revival in 1980-1990’s with growth of visual and performing arts (fueled by Rhode Island School of Design), and restaurants (fueled by Johnson & Wales Culinary Art School).